For the first time in my life, I can unashamedly admit to family, to friends, and to myself, that I am broken. But please, hold the applause. I don’t revel in this reality, and I don’t bare my battle scars to garner attention or elicit sympathy from loved ones and strangers. I have lived in suffocating silence for so long now — suppressing my inner demons and furiously swallowing my emotions in a desperate attempt to convince myself, and others, that I was just like everyone else. But at 22 years old, I have finally decided that I wanted people — especially those in my life for whom I care so deeply — to know the truth.
Let me be clear that the exposition of my brokenness was not something I had thoughtfully anticipated or planned. In fact, over the past eight years, I have fostered a unique fondness for my cage. My silence had become a safe space where I could readily retreat when I felt people getting too close, too comfortable with me. In a very strange way, I had fallen in love with my brokenness. It was something to depend on, and although it tormented me day and night, like a drug addict desperately craving their next hit, I felt I needed it to survive.
Then one day, a friend asked me how I would describe myself. We weren’t best friends, but we had spent enough time together for her to recognize that there was more to me and my story than the vestiges of truth I occasionally offered. I knew it all too well. My sarcastic deflections were on point, but like all the others in my life who had come and gone, she needed more from me than witty mockery, monosyllabic self-deprecation, and random bouts of hyperbolic insanity. Well, dammit. Here I was once again at the emotional crossroads of my life.
On the one hand, I wanted to run–retract back into my locked cage of heartache and reticence and throw away the key. On the other, however, I felt a growing compulsion to purge the secrets of my shattered soul, and resolve the mounting schism between my head and my heart. Suddenly, and without warning, the floodgates of my heart opened when I answered with one of my favorite quotes from Elizabeth Wurtzel:
I mean, if you were to find a shattered mirror, find all the pieces, all the shards and all the tiny chips, and have whatever skills and patience it took to put all that broken glass back together so that it was complete once again, the restored mirror would still be spiderwebbed with cracks, it would still be a useless glued version of its former self, which could show only fragmented reflections of anyone looking into it. Some things are beyond repair. And that was me.
Abort mission, ABORT.
At one point during my emotional tirade, I began to cry — though I don’t remember when. I stood there, completely ashamed, exposed, and humiliated. All I could feel in that moment were my hands shaking, my voice trembling, and the broken pieces of my heart crashing to the floor while my friend stared at me with stoic composure. After what felt like an eternity of vulnerability, she stood up, hugged me, and whispered, “thank you.” My relief was immense, and for the first time, I was not ashamed to be broken. To this day, I don’t know if she truly recognizes the gravity of her words and actions. I can only hope that when I say “thank you” for whatever warrants such a response, she understands that it is more than just a pleasantry. That it is an acknowledgment of, and testament to, the way her unceasing love and acceptance unequivocally saved my life.
Of course, there are still times when I am hesitant to reveal the real me. My personal insecurities continue to eat at me, and my urge to push people away – to save them from everything that I am–is at times overwhelming and unbearable. When you are broken, channeling strength and finding acceptance every day is a battle: a battle between head and heart, isolation and inclusion, and concealment and confession. Importantly, however, every day is also a healing process. Every time I acknowledge my brokenness — whether through posting a quote, sharing a story, or writing a blog — I get a little bit stronger.
The reality is I will be broken forever, and I know that because I carry the tangible scars in my heart, willingly. However, it is my ability to acknowledge it, accept it, and live in spite of it, that makes me truly captivating.
My brokenness makes me beautiful. My honesty makes me strong.